Fr Christopher Phillips: Filling in the Blanks…
September 1, 2012 Leave a comment
Some folks have the need to “fill in the blanks” when they hear something that doesn’t have the depth of detail they want. I suppose it’s a tendency resulting from those announcements made by politicians who claim they’re leaving politics so they can “spend more time with family.” Let’s face it – we all immediately think, “Sure. I wonder what the real story is.”
After Anglicanorum coetibus was made public, a very helpful blog came to prominence, called The Anglo-Catholic. It served as a kind of “information central” so people could learn more about the Holy Father’s vision for Ordinariates, and it explored aspects of our Anglican patrimony through some very interesting articles. When I was invited to be a contributor, I was pleased to accept. Since then I have contributed scores of articles, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Contributions from participants on the blog included speculation, anticipation, some pretty serious scholarship, and even some off-the-wall statements. It was all great fun, but it also served the very important purpose of building a sense of community among those who were interested in “all things Ordinariate,” and who appreciated the generosity of the Holy Father.
As the Ordinariates came into being – first in England, then in the United States, and most recently in Australia – the purpose of The Anglo-Catholic became a bit unclear. There was no more need for speculation, because what had been anticipated now existed. The blog could serve as a kind of cheerleader, but even the most dedicated cheerleaders can’t go on forever. It could be a place for reposting news articles and other blog entries, but most people would have already seen those things. It could be a place where commenters could share their thoughts, but commenters often go down paths which someone else might think is unhelpful. The respective Ordinariates have their own websites, and are perfectly capable of publicizing what their leaders wish to make public, so The Anglo-Catholic would be mere duplication if that was its purpose.
It seemed to me that The Anglo-Catholic had become a blog in search of a reason to exist, so I decided to step back, and I posted the following:
I’ve been posting articles on The Anglo-Catholic for a little over two and a half years. Many of them I’ve written myself, and others I have reposted from different sources. I hope most of them have been helpful, and I trust they have been a positive support for the Ordinariates. That has always been my intention and purpose.
Right now there seems to be a bit of a lull in any Ordinariate news to write about, and I think it’s most likely because Ordinariate activity is more of an internal thing at this particular time. It’s probably best for those of us outside the Ordinariates to back off a bit and let things work out.
There’s plenty to keep me busy at Our Lady of the Atonement Church and The Atonement Academy – something in the neighborhood of 3,000 people to care for spiritually, plus there’s a major building expansion that’s very much needed to accommodate the increased number of students applying for admission. I won’t be twiddling my thumbs, I promise!
The Ordinariates are dear to me, and it’s been a privilege to be able to encourage so many to seek their true home in communion with Rome through this wonderful vision of Pope Benedict XVI.
I thought that was pretty clear. Apparently, however, there are blanks demanding to be filled. But honestly – there’s no juicy filling to be had, and I can assure everyone that there was absolutely no outside pressure to put the blog on hiatus. However, there have been speculations about why I have pulled back from things. Please – let me expose some of them, and put them to rest.
It’s been suggested that I’m upset because our parish is not part of the Ordinariate in this country. That is untrue. In fact, we have remained as a Pastoral Provision parish in the Archdiocese of San Antonio by our own choice. The archbishop was willing to work out the practicalities of our move into the Ordinariate, but I asked him if he would have any objection if we chose to remain. Needless to say, he had no objection whatsoever – and, in fact, he expressed his delight about our staying. I made that request because the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is new, it is fragile, it is very small, and it is trying to settle itself. On the other hand, our parish is nearly thirty years old, it is well-established, it has a major school, and its membership is many times larger than the present composition of the Ordinariate.
It’s even been suggested that I’m off in a corner, isolated and angry because I wasn’t given a position of responsibility in the Ordinariate. Please put that idea to rest. I had the privilege of being appointed as the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in 1983, and I observed my 29th anniversary as pastor just a few weeks ago, on August 15th. It is my dearest hope to remain as the pastor of this parish until I retire, many years hence. As I mentioned in my final posting for The Anglo-Catholic, I have the pastoral care of nearly 3,000 souls. I am administering a parish with more than 60 employees, and with a present annual budget in excess of $5 million. I’m not crazy. I know myself well enough to realize that this task is plenty big enough for my limited capabilities, and I have no desire to be doing anything else. Being the priest in this parish is the highest and best calling God could give to me, and I’m thankful to Him daily. For all of the twenty-nine years of my priestly ministry I have been incardinated as a priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and my heart is no place else. Believe me, I’m not living in isolation!
The canonical erection of Our Lady of the Atonement Church in 1983 was ground-breaking. Our parish, in union with the other Anglican Use parishes, established a place in the Catholic Church for our Anglican patrimony, and we will continue to maintain that identity. The existence of the Ordinariates is a vindication of the pioneering work done over many years by men greater than me, and my role in helping to bring it to fruit is a privilege I treasure.
If our experience can be of any help in strengthening the Ordinariate in this country, we’re ready and willing; if our remaining outside the Ordinariate is more helpful, we understand. After all, we’re preaching the same Gospel, and we’re ministering the same Sacraments – and all the while we’re maintaining the same Anglican patrimony. In the context of the big picture, the jurisdiction in which we’re doing it is only incidental.
And don’t forget to follow Fr Phillips’ blog here.